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Ravens at Texans: 5 players to watch

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NFL: Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

After a dominant 38-6 win over the Cleveland Browns, the Baltimore Ravens will take on the Houston Texans. The Texans dropped their first game of the season to the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs 34-20.

Last season, the Ravens played the Texans once and came away with a resounding 41-7 victory. However, the Texans will look very different this time around, especially on the offensive side of the ball. DeAndre Hopkins is gone, and offseason acquisitions Randall Cobb and Brandin Cooks will attempt to fill the void. Meanwhile, David Johnson will attempt to have a bounce back campaign at running back.

Here are five players to watch:

Matt Judon

Since entering the league, Deshaun Watson has gotten sacked at a high rate. The Texans allowed 3.4 sacks per game in 2019, which was the third-worst mark in the NFL. Their season opener against the Chiefs was more of the same, as the Chiefs got to Watson four times. In their meeting last season, the Ravens pass rush was able to capitalize on this weakness and record seven sacks. Matt Judon led the way with two sacks and four quarterback hits. To win on Sunday, the Ravens will need to pressure Watson once again, and Judon will be key in getting that accomplished.

Tyus Bowser

Speaking of getting to Watson, Bowser had two sacks against the Texans last season. It was the first multi-sack game of his career. Bowser already got off to a strong start this season, as he picked up a sack and multiple pressures against the Browns. Look for him to keep the momentum going against the Texans.

Ronnie Stanley

Stanley left Sunday’s game in the third quarter due to an ankle injury. However, he missed Wednesday’s practice due to a hip injury.

His status is worth monitoring moving forward. The Ravens will certainly need Stanley against defensive end J.J. Watt.

After Stanley exited Sunday’s game, guard D.J. Fluker replaced him at left tackle and allowed one sack. If Stanley cannot play, Fluker would likely get the start.

Miles Boykin and Willie Snead IV

Bradley Roby is a solid cornerback, but the Texans are counting on former first round pick Vernon Hargreaves III to be their number two cornerback. In 2019, Hargreaves played nine games for the Buccaneers and six games for the Texans. Across those 15 total games, he had an abysmal PFF grade of 46.2. When targeted, he gave up 904 yards, seven touchdowns, and a passer rating of 116.1.

He showed no improvement against the Chiefs. Mahomes targeted Hargreaves six times and completed five passes for 43 yards and a touchdown.

The Ravens need to target Hargreaves in coverage. Roby will likely cover Marquise Brown on most snaps, so utilizing Miles Boykin and Willie Snead IV would be a smart move. Boykin was solid in the season opener with three receptions for 37 yards, while Snead caught all four of his targets for 64 yards and a touchdown. In addition, Boykin’s 6’4” height gives him an advantage against both Roby (5’11”) and Hargreaves (5’10”).